BOSTON (CBS) – Melania Trump vowed to make cyberbullying and other forms of online abuse her signature White House issue a few days before Election Day in 2016, and she is finally getting down to business.
“Our culture has gotten too mean, and too rough,” said Melania Trump.
More than 15 months later, the First Lady has started the fight against cyberbullying, hosting representatives of major social-media companies for what was billed as an information meeting to discuss preventive policies. And Mrs. Trump kicked things off by acknowledging the derisive reaction of many to her focus on a type of misconduct her husband regularly engages in.
“I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic,” she said. “I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue.”
It’s unlikely anything that the public was allowed to see of this meeting will ease that skepticism.
Experts have called for the tech companies to do much more to police cyberbullying on their platforms. But that will cost money and could tarnish their appeal. No wonder they sent their lobbyists to deliver feelgood spin.
Before the cameras were kicked out we heard Brian Huseman, Amazon’s Vice-President of Public Policy, tout the healing power of Alexa, their home attendant. “If someone [tells] Alexa he’s being bullied, Alexa will say ‘that’s not OK,’ to talk with someone that you trust,” he said.
Snapchat is a major forum for cyberbullying, but you wouldn’t know it from the remarks of Jennifer Stout, their head of global public policy. “Our platform is one that we encourage our users to be responsible, to be thoughtful, to be respectful,” Stout claimed.
And from Carlos Monje, Director of Public Policy and Philanthropy for Twitter, the trolling factory preferred by the president, came this laughable claim: “We at Twitter work very hard to make sure we have a safe environment for those who are 13 and older,” Monje said.
And then the meeting went private, leaving us to wonder if this was the start of real policy change, or just a photo-op.